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back to article Tech giants don't invent the future, they package it

Enterprise technology vendors have a serious case of "not invented here" syndrome, and it may be challenging the value that they claim to bring to their customers. After all, none of the big technology trends of the past two decades emerged from the bowels of legacy tech vendors, despite their outsized R&D budgets. Open source? …

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Mushroom

The strange part of this article is where he tries to put Apple in the non-"legacy" basket. They are just as old as Microsoft, and just as famous as IBM for only ever re-packaging existing technology (but doing it well). The reality distortion field continues to be alive and well.

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Bronze badge

I was just about to say the same thing. Apple's about as legacy as MS, but not quite as much as IBM by anyone's reckoning.

IBM's been in the Tech acquisition and repackaging business since the late 60's. Its changed a bit, but hell, they're actually functioning much closer to what they were (i.e. big iron, software and middleware for that iron, and business consulting) now since they sold their consumer side to Lenovo a few years back.

Matt's a self-admitted Apple addict/fanboi though so it really shouldnt surprise you that he has that viewpoint in regard to AAPL.

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Bronze badge

That's certainly a strange part of the article, but the whole thing is a mishmash of wildly incorrect generalizations. Even for Matt, it's rubbish.

Take "big data", for example; while that particularly inane buzzword may be relatively new, back in the '90s when it was still called "data mining" it was very much the province of the legacy enterprise-tech companies, and much of what's being done with it now is based on the primary and applied research coming out of those "oversized R&D budgets".[1]

Open source and non-relational databases both predate the Open Source and NoSQL movements by decades.

The situation's even more stark in hardware, where the research arms of the big legacy firms like Intel and IBM do all the heavy lifting. Then - gasp - that work is "repackaged" by Matt's upstart darlings.

[1] And I don't know where Assay gets off claiming those R&D budgets are "oversized". What contributions has he made that give him the ethos to critique the efforts of others?

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WTF?

Tech giants don't innovate?

Yeah, Intel are non-tech midgets. Right? Right?

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Re: Tech giants don't innovate?

I'll drink to that.

See my post re Intel below.

Stuart Saunders.

Intellectual Property Rightful Owners Action Group. reform at iproag dot org

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Re: Tech giants don't innovate?

Intel; develop: they haven't innovated since they were a small company.

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Mushroom

Apple did not invent mobile computing, nor even make it real.

> Mobile computing? Despite early interest from Microsoft and others, it was Apple that made it real.

Say WHAT? Mobile computing was quite real before any iShit, in products by Nokia and several other vendors. This looks like a stinking sample of U.S. centrism. Applie did make it look prettier, but people were browsing the net, mailing, sharing photos, etc years before it entered the field..

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Re: Apple did not invent mobile computing, nor even make it real.

Agreed. What is mobile computing if not exactly what Psion or Palm did YEARS before Apple?

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Gimp

Re: Apple did not invent mobile computing, nor even make it real.

I'm no fanboi (having a personal iPhone, a work blackberry and an Android tablet at home), but credit should be given to Apple for pushing things to a new level in mobile computing.

Of course a whole raft of vendors made phones and other pocketable devices before the iPhone (I had a whole number, including the excellent N95), but what they were the first mass market mover, starting a step change in devices that has resulted in even my 65 year old Dad looking at mobile internet on my iPhone (not really specific to iPhone, could be any touchscreen 'smart' phone) and thinking that maybe he could do that. And this is from a guy who only consented to be taught how to send text messages 4 years ago.

The large touch screen phone and simple UI was a great innovation, that seemingly gave others permission to develop their own or release already completed but unreleased products.

Remember, innovation is not invention - the person who gets the credit is the one who makes it a huge success, not the one who invented it (see: Penicillin, vacuum cleaners, theory of evolution (well, partly), calculus etc)

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Re: Apple did not invent mobile computing, nor even make it real.

The author might be misinformed. The US Army was using mobile devices in the late '90's before any of the iCrapple devices saturated/polluted the market.

They ran on Linux.

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Re: Apple did not invent mobile computing, nor even make it real.

The German army had mobile devices rather before the 90s.

The security was better than Apple, at least assuming you didn't always use "hitler" as the passwd

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FAIL

Is there a point?

What is this article about? Big companies act conservatively? Well knock me down and colour me stupid - I hadn't realised that until this pile of drivel insightful article came along and stated the bleedin' obvious helpfully expanded the boundaries of my knowledge.

And apple making mobile computing real? That's the biggest made up thing that Matt has made up yet (and he knows how to make up real big things).

Where's the laughing my bollox off icon?

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The Register did not invent English they just abuse it....

I give to you for your delectation the term "de-risking". If IBM are packaging up innovation El Reg is packaging up poor use of language....

I agree with Mr Millar, there is no point to this, it says nothing that is not self-evident. What would be more interesting would be an analysis of what this packaging approach has on potentially suppressing innovation. by giving CTO's easy, shorthand solutions are they suppressing the innovation needed to drive the next big movement in computing?

If Jobs had just put a box around an IBM design and shipped 'IBM Compatible PCs' rather than having Apple forge it's own way would we have the computer landscape we have today? I think we wouldn't. Love or hate Apple they at least did things their own way.

But repackaging is more cost efficient than finding a new way to do things so it will always be the case for companies who can do it.

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Once Upon a Time

IBM didn't invent pipelining - and, in fact, on both the STRETCH (IBM 7030) and the IBM 360/91, it worked rather poorly for them. But on the Model 91, they did, with Tomasulo's algorithm, invent out-of-order execution.

They did invent cache, the hard disk, vacuum column tape drives, among other innovations.

I'm not trying to use IBM's laurels to claim that it's still an innovator today, but rather to argue that not being an innovator any longer isn't likely to be a route to success comparable to their past glories. That isn't to say that IBM has a choice.

Perhaps the biggest reason why big companies don't often succeed at re-inventing themselves enough to become innovators once again is because the space where there's room for innovation is in unexplored products, only a small fraction of which become successes. That's the place for small startups, because the usual outcome is failure.

Still, IBM could yet end up unseating either or both of Intel and Microsoft if they should stumble. In fact, given Windows 8, perhaps dusting off OS/2 is worth a tiny effort...

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LDS
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Where VC comes from?

Today the "startup" model is used to develop and test new technologies without letting failures being traced to a big company, for which shareholders could ask explanations of the money spent...

But where VC comes from? Those big companies... which later will acquire successful startups and let the failed one in the dust, without taking the burden of the failure.

Meanwhile the huge R&D departments of those companies keep on working on the products that bring in revenues - and eventually fund VC. Sure, some startups may grown on their own, but that depends on the product - a web one could afford it, but many can't. Probably Asay forgets the acquisition of Fingerworks by Apple... or how its "web giants" came out from a little innovative idea from CERN, they built nice packages around it.

Anyway some big companies still perform basic R&D for technologies that requires money and especially long term results, something a startup can't perfrom because of its very nature. Many fundamental IBM researches were used by others before IBM, but sure, don't expect IBM deliver Instagram or some stupid Google protocol like websockets (aka TCP over HTTP....)

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Unhappy

I only clicked the story because I was interested in the cactus bulb on the photo, but no mention of it.

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IT Angle

Its very simple

Large companies are monolithic bureaucracies, and do best at grinding out product and using marketing muscle to push it.

R & D takes flair, talent and risk taking. Why try and incorporate that when you can wait for a winner and simply buy them? when all the other firms that didn't make it simply die.

Its just the way it is.

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Coat

"emerged from the bowels of legacy tech vendors"

Generally, one should avoid the subtances emerging from bowels of any sort...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "emerged from the bowels of legacy tech vendors"

And hence anything from IBM which of course stands for Involuntary Bowel Movement......

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Re: "emerged from the bowels of legacy tech vendors"

That was NOT a pleasant mental picture.

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